Sunday, April 23, 2006

McNair Trial Over - Convictons All Around...

Somewhat surprisingly, the civil-rights activist (and eternally grieving father—turned commissioner) was convicted on bribery and conspiracy charges on Friday. I say "surprising" because I had predicted jury nullification. I figured that the hugely sympathetic, 80-yr old civil rights unifier—tried in his adoring hometown by sinister out-of-state prosecutors—would be acquitted by a friendly jury. And from what I saw, the prosecutors seemed to give them lots of reasons to do it too. Admittedly, I only saw parts of the trial, but what I did see was a robotic and boring team of prosecutors that refused to apply some of the most elementary techniques of white-collar litigation. I saw the lead prosecutor drive of one of McNair's surviving daughters to tears while she was on the stand as a government witness (presumably under a subpoena—but he never explained that to the jury). The black women on the jury appeared ready to leap out of their chairs and take him out. The prosecutor continued his direct through the daughter's tears and sobs until one of the myriad defense lawyers walked to the witness stand (while the prosecutor continued to drone on) and offered her a handkerchief. You could smell the jury's distaste for the government...


But in the end, justice seems to have prevailed. So, “kudos” to the prosecutors, for rising above their pedestrian trial tactics to get the conviction. I guess juries sometimes do listen to the evidence…

One of the more interesting (and frankly disturbing) developments of late is the post-hoc grumblings that the black community should have "done more" for the commissioner during his trial. What's that all about? Consider this: Joe Dickson (a civil rights activist and former publisher of The Birmingham World, a black newspaper) "said he wished that McNair could have rallied black preachers to come to his trial the way that Richard Scrushy - who is white - did when he was acquitted of criminal charges of fraud at HealthSouth Corp. 'I'm sorry nobody came to back him up the way they backed Scrushy up.'" What? Is he just saying that we should have shown solidarity and personal forgiveness for an otherwise great man in his time of need, or is he bemoaning the fact that the community didn't rise up and duplicate its pathetic show of well-compensated grandstanding that bought an acquittal for "brother Richard"? I fear it is the latter. While I am already saddened that a crook like Scrushy was able to sow his money in poor black churches and reap a harvest of public support (that undoubtedly helped his case) I am totally appalled to hear our leaders suggest that should be the status quo! If McNair had thrown around half the money that Scrushy did, we would have seen just as many hired preachers laying hands on him in the courtroom—and it would have been just as tragic and unjust if it had worked for him too…

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Blogger Ping-Pong Paddle said...

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7:38 PM  

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